Sustaining passion and purpose in a company’s workforce has lately been a challenge of balancing remote and hybrid personal schedules in the face of a possible recession. Employees have been whipsawed by persistently high inflation, student loan debt and news of pending job losses. After the pandemic, the current economic and social climate feels like a double punch. No wonder quiet-quitting has become a thing.

Companies know to adjust fast to the needs and demands of customers, partners, suppliers and investors. But what about the employees, who we need most? As every B-School in America says, employee satisfaction is critical to the bottom line.

Here are four tips to engage and inspire our teams:

– Let the CEO talk. Employees like to hear from the top. They want to feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves. They expect to be valued, and they don’t get that feeling in a memo from HR. All-hands meetings and one-on-one sit-downs with top brass inspire urgency, substance and purpose for everybody. If you haven’t gotten the word yet, the CEO role has permanently changed: it’s OK now to share, listen, reveal and sympathize. A quarterly employee newsletter helps further humanize the workplace with announcements of weddings, babies, birthdays, anniversaries, awards and community volunteerism, the events that matter the most to people and bind them together.

– Address Hot-Button Issues. Many employees and brands jump into political debates that don’t necessarily align with the brand’s mission and goals. The line between public and private comments has blurred and can reflect a company’s core values. But staying silent can be viewed as oblivious or even cowardly by employees. Businesses profit by saying what they stand for when push comes to shove. Advocacy isn’t required, policy is. Draw a line in the sand that the company will not cross.

– Connect on Core Values. Embrace the connection of teams with company culture–and clearly define what that culture is. At OWC, that happens in one-on-one meetings that are frequent and short. We use the RPI method (Results, Progress and Issues) to focus on our goals of Entrepreneurial Thinking, One Team, and Embracing Failure. “Embracing Failure” takes some explaining: for us, it means the boldness to innovate and also the readiness to course-correct fast. No email memo can communicate that. It requires face-to-face coaching and goal definition. So get the team off Zoom. Connect with a pickleball match, bowling or an ice skating party—bond, learn and laugh. “Always connect.”

– Listen! Employees want to be heard and when management listens, it’s often an eye-opening experience that means progress and innovation. Employee surveys reveal what staff value beyond higher pay. A deaf ear means lost talent, and recruitment and retraining are a tangible cost of ignoring what’s important to our most important asset.

Top-down builds the bottom line! For more info, visit